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Small Cabin Forum / Off-Grid Living / Modified chest freezer/refridgerator
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# Posted: 20 Oct 2014 16:55

I tested my modified chest freezer/Fridge this past weekend at the cabin.
I unloaded it first thing Friday evening and set it up right away. I plugged in my Killawatt then I plugged in the Johnson controller then plugged the freezer into it. Slide the thermostat into the freezer compartment and turn it on.
I set the thermostat on the Johnson to max high. then i unloaded my cooler into the fridge.
Also I scooped up all my loose ice and bagged it into 2 gallon zip lock bags and placed them in the very bottom of the fridge.

This thing is very quiet. I left it running all night then the next morning when i got up i checked the items inside. Ice was still solid in the bags and had even solidified into one big block.
All food was good and cold.

I checked the Killawatt and it showed .17KW used in 12 hours.

Higher than my 300 watt tests done in my garage but still pretty good.

I lowered the temp to 3/4 on and checked the killawatt 12 more hours later.

Ice was still solid.
I think I can have ice cream at my cabin now since on high setting the ice never melted in the bottom of the fridge.

I believe I can still cut the power even more but will have to test that on another trip.

Here is a link the the Johnson controller if anyone is interested.


# Posted: 20 Oct 2014 22:50


I am going to do this as well. Have the fridge and controller already.

# Posted: 21 Oct 2014 09:45 - Edited by: LastOutlaw

So far I'm very happy with it. I've read where others who used propane fridges have switched over to these modified chest freezers due to the savings on propane.

When first turned on the compressor kicked on for about 15 minutes. After that it only ran maybe once per hour if even that much for about a minute or two.

When on the compressor pulled 120 watts. Amp draw was 2.33 Amps.

They say these are very economical because they are much better insulated than a regular home fridge and due to it being a top opener they don't lose much cold when you open them.

My other alternative was a propane fridge...hundreds of dollars, Yeti cooler which is also hundreds of dollars and 2 hour round trips to pavement for ice.

I paid $50 for the chest freezer on Craigslist and another $45 or so for the Johnson controller.

# Posted: 21 Oct 2014 13:59

Might want to pick up some 3 inch styro sheeting to enclose the freezer, you can never have enough insulation.

# Posted: 21 Oct 2014 16:14

Quoting: groingo
Might want to pick up some 3 inch styro sheeting to enclose the freezer, you can never have enough insulation.

I considered that but after looking into the construction of the freezer they heavily insulate then they wrap coils around the outside just under the sheet metal skin. More insulation won't do much good.

# Posted: 21 Oct 2014 17:09

Todays freezers place the condenser coils just under the exterior skin. Adding a layer of external foam will kill the units ability to cool effectively. Likely damage the compressor.

# Posted: 28 Oct 2014 11:32

I have the same set up I use at home for my homebrew. Works great. Cost around $4.75 per year to run. I want to run same set up at my camp, but want to run it off battery bank. Are you on batteries or tied to grid?

# Posted: 28 Oct 2014 12:22 - Edited by: LastOutlaw

Quoting: GreatWhiteNorth
Are you on batteries or tied to grid?

I'm running on battery right now utilizing a bank of 12 volt batteries that I recharge with a Honda EU2000 generator.
I have my panels on hand to add to the system at some point in the near future but am a bit concerned about leaving $1200 to $1500 worth of panels unattended for any period of time due to possible theft.

I'm still working on how exactly I'm going to set them up.
I would like to build a building in the sunny spot to mount them on at some point but right now if I set them up I would have to put them on some type of free standing mounts.

I considered setting them up to be removable to store inside when I'm not there but after looking over the panels at 6 feet tall and about 3 feet wide each I'm not sure it is feasible. I'm also concerned about damage to the panels if they are removed and stored a lot.

At some point something is bound to get smacked during moves.

Murphy has more chances to get involved the more the panels are moved.

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